Who Owns the Web?

Most people would attribute the invention of the World Wide Web (not to be confused with the Internet) to Tim Berners-Lee. Most people except perhaps for Berners-Lee himself. The British computer scientist, who together with Belgian Robert Cailliau and a young student at CERN, devised a way of interconnecting a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and a server via the Internet, had to testify last Tuesday in a courtroom as part of an effort by a group of internet companies to defeat two patents from Michael Doyle. Mr Doyle claims that he was in fact the first inventor of the “interactive web” in 1993 when he was employed by the University of California and created a program which allowed doctors to view images of embryos using a web browser window. Not only that, he actually patented the invention.

During the audition Berners-Lee declared that “The internet was already around. … All I was doing was putting together bits that had been around for years …” And he was right of course, as the World Wide Web was not invented from scratch. It was rather the evolution of preexisting technologies, such as the long established public and private networks of the time which run in the form of Arpanet, BBSs, and other related initiatives since the mid to late 1980s, when the Web was really at its inception. But that probably wasn’t the type of answer the defenders of the “free web” had wished he’d come up with.

And they have reasons to fear because Michael Doyle, the sole founder of Eolas, has already gotten away with no less than $100 million, as a result of a settlement after suing Microsoft alleging that it had infringed on one of its patents when enabling Internet Explorer to use plug-ins and applets in the software. In 2009 Eolas sued other big companies over patent number 7,599,985, claiming royalty payments from just about anyone running a website that makes use of common “interactive” features, such as rotating pictures, serving video, or even having a “search suggestion” display in a search box. During 2011 a number of these companies, including Texas Instruments, Oracle and JPMorgan Chase opted for signing licensing deals with Eolas, while the company continues pressing to obtain payoffs from others.

However some companies like Google, Amazon, and Yahoo among others are fighting back, and are trying to use the testimonies of people like Berners-Lee, Netscape co-founder Eric Bina, Viola browser inventor Pei-Yuan Wei, and HTML evangelist Dave Raggett, to win the case.

Jennifer Doan, the lawyer representing Yahoo and Amazon, led the questioning.

“Mr. Berners-Lee, why are you here?” asked Doan.

“I am here because I want to help get some clarity over what was obvious, and what was the feeling of computing in the early 1990. The tools I had in my knapsack, so to speak,” he said.

Doan also asked whether Berners-Lee had invented the web, and more importantly whether he had applied for a patent on it.

“No,” said Berners-Lee.

“Why not?” asked Doan.

“The internet was already around. I was taking hypertext, and it was around a long time too. I was taking stuff we knew how to do. All I was doing was putting together bits that had been around for years in a particular combination to meet the needs that I have.”

Doan: “And who owns the web?”

Berners-Lee: “We do.”

The jury will now determine whether the patents are valid. If Eolas wins the case Mr Doyle would be entitled to claim royalty payments from just about every modern website.

To be continued …

Analytics for Success

Analytics GraphEvery website owner wants to have access to their site’s visitors statistics. All of them, almost without exceptions. Even the ones who are not planning to derive any financial profit from their Internet presence would still want to know who visits their websites, why do they visit them, what are the times they choose to visit and what are the total number of visitors.

The amount of detail is what differences some website owners from others. While some people are happy with just a quick, general report, others will want to drill down into the details. Those are the ones who will be happy to learn about RackNine’s Site Analytics service.

Site Analytics is the perfect solution for executives planning new marketing initiatives based on accurate visitor traffic patterns and trends on their websites, allowing them to easily figure out which customer and customer segments are most valuable.

Marketing Professionals will benefit from knowing where visitors are coming from, what keywords attract them and what do they do on their websites, highly valuable pieces of intelligence that will help them convert more visitors into customers.

Content and Web Developers will be able to track the most popular landing pages and optimize them accordingly, emphasizing the type of content people are most interested in, and turning off those website design elements that may be turning visitors away.

Site Analytics has a large array of advanced options that set them ahead of many other popular tools, such as Google Analytics. Among its most valuable features are:

  • Stats at-a-glance
    Get the information you want – without having to click through countless screens – with our customizable dashboard view.
  • Real-time results
    With Site Analytics’ real-time statistics, you don’t have to wait until tomorrow to find out if changes to your site are working. Plus, heat mapping and pinpoint functionality tell you which sections or links are getting the most attention.
  • In-depth reporting
    Dig into the details and get a better understating of your customers with more than 30 reports. Find out who’s visiting, when they’re on your site, how they’re getting there and much more.
  • Choose your view
    Site Analytics lets you decide how you want to view your data with three graphing options (Bar, Area and Line) as well as the ability to export to Microsoft Excel® or Adobe® PDF.

View the table below for a feature comparison between RackNine’s Site Analytics and Google Analytics:

RackNine Google
Analytics™
SUPPORT & FEATURES YES YES
Real-time statistics Visitor data available right away YES YES
Page views Number of hits supported each month 50 million 5 million
Pinpoint tracking See which links are clicked on the most YES YES
Overlay heatmap See where visitors are clicking and where they are not YES — —
Log file analysis and export Rely on hard-coded server logs YES — —
VISITOR REPORTS YES YES
Current visitors Visitors currently on the website (real-time functionality enabled) YES YES
Visitors Visitors and unique visitors YES YES
Visitor information Information on current and recent visitors YES YES
Visitor paths The paths visitors take on your site YES YES
Depth of visit Number of pages viewed per visit YES YES
Time on site The time visitors spend on your site YES YES
Loyalty Return visits during the time range YES YES
GEOGRAPHICAL REPORTS YES YES
Postal codes The postal codes of your visitors YES — —
Countries The home countries of your visitors YES YES
Regions The home states of your visitors YES YES
Cities The home cities of your visitors YES YES
PAGE REPORTS YES YES
Most popular hour What hours hits are at their highest YES — —
Most popular day Popularity by day of the week YES — —
Page views The total number of page views YES YES
Pages The pages that are requested YES YES
Entry pages The pages on which visitors entered your site YES YES
Exit pages The pages from which your visitors left YES YES
Bounce rate Page visitors both entered and left from YES YES
Exit links Where your visitors went when they left your site YES YES
SYSTEM REPORTS YES YES
Browsers Visitor browser preferences YES YES
Operating systems Visitor OS preferences YES YES
REFERRER REPORTS YES YES
Referring domains The domains that drive visits YES YES
Referring pages The pages that drive visits YES YES
Search engines The search engines that drive visits YES YES
Keywords The search engine keywords that drive visits YES YES
SERVER REPORTS YES YES
Errors Pages that generated errors YES — —
Hits The total pages and files served to your visitors YES YES
RESOURCE REPORTS YES YES
Files Non-Page hits and downloads YES List of all content
Resource types Hits broken down by page and file type YES — —
Bad resource links Your site’s broken links YES — —
BANDWIDTH REPORTS YES YES
Bandwidth How much you’re using because of hits YES — —
File bandwidth How much you’re using because of downloads YES — —
eCOMMERCE REPORTS YES YES
Conversion summary Tracking Ad ID campaign success YES YES
Conversion details Detailed analysis of Ad ID campaign success YES YES

 

If you’re serious about Analytics these are the kind of advanced features that will make all the difference in the world and set you apart from the competition. There’s a quote commonly attributed to Andrew Lang that says it all, “An unsophisticated forecaster uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts – for support rather than for illumination.”

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Social Media Software for the Extended Enterprise

Enterprise Social Media could be loosely be defined as a system of web-based technologies that focus on collaboration, information sharing, and integration within the enterprise environment. In contrast to traditional enterprise software, which imposes structure prior to use, enterprise social software tends to encourage use before providing structure.

Latest bunch of Social Media Enterprise Software focuses mainly on integration, agility, and speed by implementing user-friendly technology that is compatible across all kinds of devices with an emphasis on the mobile platform. Enterprises are now able to collaborate, share, and organize information across all levels using Social Media Enterprise Software, and this trend that can only grow even stronger during the coming years, as confirmed by a recent study from Forrester Research that concludes that Social Media Enterprise Software, which mimics the kind of  functionality present on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, will be increasingly adapted for workplaces. According to the study organizations will increase their spending on Social Media Enterprise Software at a compound annual growth rate of 61 percent through 2016, a year in which the market for these products will reach US$6.4 billion, compared with $600 million. Forrester’s report entitled “Social Enterprise Apps Redefine Collaboration” also predicts that by creating a social layer between information workers and the applications and communications infrastructure, social enterprise apps will finally overcome the adoption issues that have prevented the effective implementation of unified communications and collaboration in the workplace.

There are many flavors of Social Software for Enterprises, and competition for a share of this very lucrative market is becoming fiercer by the day. Among the big contenders are names like Oracle Social CRM, Cisco Quad, IBM Lotus Connections, Microsoft SharePoint, BroadVision Clearvale, Neudesic Pulse, Yammer, Jive SBS, Ideaplane Kinetic, or MindShare. However different they may appear to be, at their core all their software share some common functionality like search facilities, categorized content, authoring modules, comments systems and syndication channels. All these modules can bring added value to business because by focusing on users needs and ergonomics they will bring about tremendous time savings. Often overlooked features such as comprehensible navigation more suited to the user, RSS feeds to keep employees informed of events, blogs and wikis for company documentation and others improve the collaborative operation as a whole and remove some traditional boundaries of hierarchy and organization, leading to increased interaction with customers and simplified integration with partners.

Corporate blogs for example take advantage of blogging technologies to broadcast leadership messages and publish daily activities. Corporate blogs are becoming a part of the standard set of corporate communication tools and the emerging portfolio of social-media tools. Features like tags and rating help corporate employees find content and make judgements about policies or procedures. And corporate wikis provide an easy-to-use environment for subject-matter experts to publish their interpretation on any subject. By creating a wiki individual divisions are now able to add items to the system and make a decision on which items should roll up to the corporate level.

Additionally, expertise-location capability provides corporations with the ability to solve business problems that are difficult to articulate or communicate explicitly and that involve highly skilled professionals. Dynamic people-profiles and searches are increasingly seen as integral components of a support environment that encourages unplanned collaboration and informal interactions as effective ways to solve business problems. Expertise location increases productivity and organizational success by identifying the status and location of human expertise in globally dispersed and increasingly virtual organizations. Publishing of employee profiles and searches against those profiles are increasingly seen by strategists as integral components of a business process that encourages unplanned collaboration and informal interactions as effective ways to solve business problems. Social network tools help managers find the right person or group for the appropriate task.

Last but not least, by implementing Social Media Software companies make it so much easier to collect and incubate innovative ideas that can be nurtured with community participation. Every company has people whose talents fall outside their jobs descriptions and therefore remain hidden most of the time. These employees can now make very important contributions to the idea generation process that will help fuel the product pipeline.

How to Get Search Engines to Index your Website

Search Engines use web crawlers (computer programs that browse the World Wide Web in an automated way) to create a copy of all the visited pages that will later be processed and indexed to provide the basis for the search results.

When the crawler, also called spider, visits a web page, reads it, and then follows any hyperlinks it finds to other pages within the same domain. This is in short the basic procedure followed when a site is being “spidered” or “crawled.” The spider returns to the site on a regular basis to look for changes. How often it returns depends on the frequency of updates and overall importance of the site.

Google search results for RackNine

Everything the spider finds goes into the second part of the search engine, the index. The index, sometimes called the catalog, is a giant database containing a copy of every web page the spider comes across. Every time a web page changes the database is updated with the new information, allowing search engines to take a query from users and return all the pages on the index that match it.

Sometimes it can take a while for new pages or changes that the spider finds to be added to the index. Thus, a web page may have been “spidered” but not yet “indexed.” The big difference is that if a page is not in the search engine’s index, it will not appear in search results.

Among the common issues inexperienced webmasters encounter when trying to index their site are missing submissions, that occur when search engines are prevented from indexing a website because they simply don’t know the site exists. One way they find a website is if through links from other sites. Another is by submitting directly to those search engines where you wish to have the site crawled and indexed.

Once it has been already indexed your site might already be coming up as a search result, but might be buried behind the competition. To see if your site is indexed, go to a search engine and type site:www.yourdomain.com (where ‘yourdomain.com’ is your domain name) in the search field. If your site displays as a result, it’s indexed. Your next step is to optimize your website and improve its search engine rankings.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving internal and external aspects of a website, or Web page, to increase its organic visibility for search engines. SEO involves editing the website’s HTML code and content to make it more search engine friendly, and then promoting the site to increase its relevance on the Web.

To make the most of optimizing the code you need to understand that search engines do not see Web pages like you do. Generally speaking hey cannot process raw images, neither translate them into meaningful content. Search engines crawl your website by reading the code created with HTML  and the actual text that it contains. If your site includes just images, Javascript, or Flash®, then search engines might not identify the content to index. A page made up mostly of those elements displays almost blank to a crawler and the search engine has a great deal of difficulty indexing it.

Another common problem is encountered when the site contents aren’t accessible because it requires registration or its pages are protected with a password. Just like a site is programmed to keep non-registered users out, it also blocks search engines from crawling content. To by-pass this barrier you could submit a site map and tweak the code to correctly identify accessible key pages of your website for search engine review.

Last but not least you must always remember that on the Internet “Content is King”, and your copy should always target your audience group. That will help search engines classify your website and index it accordingly, improving your chances of having the site appear high on search result pages for queries related to your content.

If you decide to do it on your own keep always in mind that it can take weeks, even months, for search engines to index the contents of your website. Our SEO team at RackNine can analyze your website and help you develop an adequate strategy to cut those times considerably. Contact us for more information.

 


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How to upload Files using FTP

Sometimes, or perhaps many times, … ok let’s be totally honest here, most of the time, IT professionals take for granted that many of the issues we deal with on a daily basis are common knowledge and/or common sense. We have gotten so used to operating computers that we forgot how it was the first time we were faced with some of those challenges and now believe those tasks are among the easiest to carry out. Or at least the easiest to understand.

But that’s hardly the case and you are constantly reminded when dealing with the general public. Even though here at RackNine we have a clientele that in general could be termed as technically-savvy or at least with a knowledge that is above the average computer user, on some occasions they get lost on some basic concepts such as how File Transfer Protocol (FTP) works, which is one of our most frequently asked questions at our support department.

As its name implies FTP is a network protocol used to transfer files, mostly over TCP-based networks such as the Internet, and is how most of our clients upload their files to their websites. The client side involves a very simple piece of software that usually involves just two windows, one for your local computer and the other for the remote server where the files will be transferred so they can be seen online by anyone connected to the Internet.

That remote computer is the server housing your hosting account. You will use an FTP client to move your website’s files from your computer to your hosting account, making your files visible on the internet whenever someone visits your domain name.

Some popular free FTP clients are

  1. FileZilla 
    Our recommended choice. Simple interface yet very powerful functionality. Runs on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, BSD and more.
  2. FireFTP
    A Mozilla Firefox add-on that provides simple and intuitive access to FTP/SFTP servers from within the browser.
  3. WinSCP
    Open source SFTP client, SCP client, FTPS client and FTP client for Windows. WinSCP also offers scripting and basic file manager functionality.
  4. Cyberduck
    FTP, SFTP and WebDAV client originally for Macintosh, now also offers a Windows version.

Every FTP client works differently, but you will find that all of them have the following settings needed to connect to your hosting account:

Host Name
This is your primary hosted domain name, or your hosting account IP address.
FTP User Name
Your hosting account user name.( Where’s my user name? )
FTP Password
Your hosting account password.( I forgot my password. )
Website URL
Your site’s URL (e.g. http://www.example.com).
FTP Site URL
Your FTP server’s URL (e.g. ftp://www.example.com).
Start Directory
RackNine’s hosting services do not require a “Home” or “Start” directory, so leave the field blank. If the client requires a value, enter a single forward slash followed by your hosting account user name (i.e., /).

For additional information about configuring specific FTP clients, see the following articles

NOTE:
Even though we provide information about how to use certain third-party products as a courtesy, we do not endorse or directly support third-party products and we are not responsible for the functionality or reliability of such products. Third-party marks and logos are registered trademarks of their respective owners and all rights are reserved.